Years ago, I worked at a small health clinic in a remote country. I had gone there to treat an obscure syndrome. It attacked people’s lungs, causing them to need a respirator to breathe. I was trying out a new medication to treat these people instead of using a respirator. If I was successful, I would become famous.
Everything was going fine until war broke out in a nearby country. Many people from that country fled the hostile invading army. The army wanted to dominate the people, but the people didn’t want to be oppressed. So they walked hundreds of miles across barren land to get away.
Some of these people came to our clinic for treatment. I talked with them and learned of their difficulties. They did not beg or complain. I was impressed by their dignity.
There was one woman I will never forget. Her son suffered from malnutrition and stomach pain, and she didn’t know what to do. Neither did I. I was not adept at treating malnutrition. Nonetheless, when I saw her sadness, I knew I had to help her son.
The woman had been feeding her son bread and water. She had a misconception that it would be enough for him. However, I knew that he needed to eat vegetables, too. So I took her outside and showed her a dense patch of edible plants. I taught her how to dig up the roots, peel them, and cook them for her son. I explained that she should increase her son’s intake of these vegetables. Likewise, she should strive to get him some meat once a week to help him regain his strength.
I sent her off with a prescription for some pain medicine, but she also left my office with some new culinary skills. A few weeks later, she returned to tell me her son was healthy again. As thanks, she gave me a beautiful ceramic bowl.
I never became famous, but I kept that bowl to remind me what it truly means to heal someone.